Bruno Pronsato is somewhat of an enigmatic figure. Not only is he in no way Italian, as his name suggests, but his music does not lend itself to any single genre, existing independently of itself in its own, self-forged categories. At once deep and minimal, dance-floor orientated and explicitly technical, his music has been, for so many years now, brilliantly packaged and presented via his widely appreciated live shows, admired as much for their sonic value as for the auteur’s unwavering energy and enthusiasm. MEOKO caught up with Bruno ahead of his debut visit to South Africa to discuss exactly how it is he views himself as an artist.
Hi Bruno, thanks for your time. I was genuinely surprised to hear that Bruno Pronsato wasn’t your real name. What’s the story behind it, and why did you go for something so italian sounding?
The name comes from my ex-wife’s brother, actually. I always loved the sound of his name. the first record I released I thought I would use it as it sounded so much better (at least to me) than Steven Ford. At that point I never would have dreamed this would become a career.
You are especially revered for your percussion sounds – described as ‘piquant’ in one article i read and likened to those purveyed by Ricardo Villalobos. Are they a part of your repertoire you focus a lot of your time on?
Well, I played drums for 16 years before I started making electronic music. so i would say that percussion has always been a huge part of my musicianship. It’s what I feel I do best.
Your sound feels quite minimal at times. Was the whole European movement several years ago a big influence on you at all?
Ha, there’s that word again. I sort of came into my own within the community around the time of the so-called minimal movement, and because of that I feel people perceive my music as minimal. If you could see my studio projects as they exist in logic, I think your opinion would be quite different.
Coming from the US, what’s your opinion on the recent rise in popularity of EDM? Are you surprised that dance music has finally been allowed to become mainstream?
Well, EDM has been big in the US before, so it’s no surprise that it’s found its way back into the mainstream. I believe things that reach a mainstream status are good in a way because what usually happens is people that are truly interested in the mainstream find their way to more underground roots. Interested people usually educate themselves and that’s always a good thing.
Have you seen any change in the more underground scenes as a result? By that i mean, do you think it could be widening the appeal of electronic music in general?
As i mentioned above, it seems that interested people will find their way back to the roots and the more underground sounds. It always takes the mainstream to present people with what the possibilities are.
You recently played for RA at Decibel in Seattle. it must feel great having such a respected festival take root in a city that must mean a lot to you – has it changed the city’s sonic landscape for the better do you think?
It’s hard to say. I don’t live there anymore, so to say things have changed on a daily level, I wouldn’t know. I will say that the people that I knew there before I left seem to have a bit more of an interest in electronic music in general. Seattle has always been a more indie-rock focused city, so to see electronic music being taken more seriously is a nice surprise.
You’ve moved about quite a bit in your life. Are you still happy living in Berlin? Apart from the techno and amazing record shops, what’s the best thing about it?
I am still very happy in Berlin. I think what I’m liking more and more these days is the variety of places to eat. When i first moved here there was a pretty big gap between plain food and fine dining. There has always been extraordinary places to eat, but i think Berlin is sort of filling that middle ground a bit more these days.
The public are yet to hear any original productions from yourself in 2012. Did you decide to take a break after the release of Lovers Do last year? When will you next find yourself in the studio?
I did take a sort of small break after the birth of my daughter, but I have been mainly busy with collaborations. I released the Public Lover LP with my girlfriend last february, and just released a record with Daze Maxim as ‘Others’, which just came out a week ago. Sammy Dee and I have our Half Hawaii collaboration which will be out on Perlon later this year or early next.
Although you haven’t released anything original so far this year, you must constantly be updating your live show with bits and pieces to keep it fresh. Tell us a little bit about your performance ethos. Do you ever play tracks that aren’t yours?
I am constantly working on music. Some of the music I make goes into a live set – the more dance floor oriented stuff. I sort of dissect those pieces from those tracks and move them into my live set. the more home-listening stuff goes into ‘tracks.’ I never play other people’s music in my sets.
You’re playing three dates in South Africa at the beginning of November, including one where you’ll be playing on a train platform in-between two subway trains. Will it be your first time there? What do you know about the scene there? How are you feeling about the shows?
Yes, it will be my first time in SA. I am very happy about this. I have never really heard much about the scene down there, so that is another exciting aspect. I have prepared some special music for the shows there. Speaking briefly with the promoter I feel like there may be a bigger appreciation of my more abstract sound. I have been trying some new stuff out here and there to see how they work. Hopefully by the time I reach SA i’ll have nailed it.
Catch Bruno next at Make Believe in Cape Town